He didn’t have to do it, his contract ran until 2020, yet Claudio Marchisio’s love for Juventus saw him mutually rescind his deal and leave the club which he adores so much. His picture on social media of him as a boy donning a Juventus shirt said: “I can’t stop looking at his photograph and these stripes on which I wrote my life as a man and a footballer”. There ended a 25-year affiliation with The Old Lady, professionally at least. It was a move that anyone involved with football can sympathise with, as it would’ve been heart-wrenching to do.
From a family of Bianconeri in Turin, Marchisio went from fan, to ball boy, to Serie B, to Champions League, with the club he holds so dear. Now at 32 years of age and after many injures, he decided to leave not just his club, but what he feels is his home.
The ‘Little Prince’ won seven Scudetti and four Coppa Italias, three Italian Super Cups and a Serie B title in a glorious career that saw him revered as one of Europe’s best midfielders for a time. Leaving through mutual consent, the midfielder thought it best to further his career elsewhere as he couldn’t give what he wanted to the club after a string of absences that followed a terrible knee injury back in 2016.
Born and raised in Turin, it is no wonder he was a fan favourite and his form also saw him represent the Azzurri 55 times. The only time he left his home Turin was for a loan spell at Empoli, but other than that he has been ever-present. Whilst he hasn’t featured as much as he or the fans would have liked, his departure will hit Juventus fans hard, as he is a symbol of what it means to be a Juventino. The local boy was one of those men who played in the orchestra in 2006 as the ship sank in the ocean of Calciopoli, he did not look for the life boats.
Marchisio is also not what one sees in modern day footballers. He has never wanted to be in the spotlight and, in the Gianluigi Buffon mould, he has been an example for what the Turin giants expect from their professionals. He is rarely heard off the pitch and in today’s world of footballers being professional marketeers, he is somewhat of a throw-back. One can only imagine how much of an influence he has been and perhaps how much he will be missed in the dressing room by the veterans and young players alike.
It perhaps is a measure of the man that only now we get to discussing his playing qualities. Technically brilliant, tactically astute and what’s more versatile, it is no wonder that he has been a huge part in the journey that Juventus have been on from Serie B to serial title winners. As a mezz'ala, a regista, a ‘whatever you need him to be’, he was first a team player for Juventus and secondly dabbled in the superlatives (albeit not that often).
So, where next for Marchiso? The mainstream media suggests MLS, but all fans of Serie A will hope not. A player like Claudio is one of the few that transcends club rivalries, like Paolo Maldini, Gigi Buffon, Javier Zanetti, you just like them. Perhaps he will return to Empoli? His loyalty and the fact he doesn’t seek the limelight would make it a beautiful fit, but perhaps this is a romantic view.
Tonight, Juventus and fans of Serie A will be saddened by the news. As with Alessandro Del Piero and Gigi Buffon, many thought and believed Marchisio deserved to see out his career in Turin.
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